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PowerTech's Dewey-Burdock Application Not Acceptable

Notice from Sarah Fields - Uranium Watch
This morning, June 11, the NRC staff met with PowerTech and their lawyers regarding the inadequacies of PowerTech's application for the Dewey-Burdock Project.  At the end of the meeting, the NRC staff's conclusion was that the application was not complete and PT should either withdraw the application or the NRC would send them a letter stating that it did not meet their acceptance criteria.  PT said that they would send a letter within two weeks.  They still intend to pursue the project, but need to  present a more complete application. EPA Region 8 and South Dakota agency were listening in.
Some of the inadequacies:
1. Inadequate characterization of the hydrology and information to support conclusions.  Concerns about adequacy of the Morrison Formation as a confining layer, pump testing (number, duration), monitoring.

2. Where will the operations occur over the entire project area?  PowerTech still wants to do ore body investigations, which costs money.  There idea is to have a conceptual license that allows them to do what they want later, under certain license conditions.
NRC said that it must be specific.

3. Waste disposal plans.  PT talked about large ponds to store water in winter, radium treatment ponds, deep well injection, and land disposal.  Plans submitted were not specific.

4. What zones does PT expect to extract uranium from?  Where are they proposing to operate? PT said Fall River and Lakota aquifers.  They intend to do more drilling to delineate the ore body.  NRC: they need to produce a document that bounds the activities.  Fall River is an unconfined area. PT wants to develop information as they go, because it costs so much money.  PT spoke about a project where they did not need a confining aquifer.  Instead, they used pressure to control the process.  They seemed to think that that would be OK.

5. Replacement of water wells.  Apparently, there is at least one water well into the aquifer in the area they wish to mine.  They have agreement with owner to replace well and provide water if they get a license.  They mentioned their UIC application to the EPA.  Apparently, SD also gives them a UIC permit, so EPA probably provides the aquifer exemption. PT seemed to think that they could get an aquifer exemption if they had an agreement with existing users to replace their water.

There is issue of an underlying aquifer supplying water to Edgemont.

[My understanding is that a company cannot get an aquifer exemption if the water in the exempted area is or could be used for drinking water and some other purposes.  I could be wrong, but my understanding is that a current user (of only part of the aquifer) can't just give away the protection of the aquifer.  This is surely an issue.]

The NRC explained that they do a complete 90-day technical review so that they will have an application that they can use and meet the other review milestones: 150-days, request for additional information; 12 months, draft SER; 2-years, final decision.  NRC did not mention EIS.

Having listened in on several NRC meetings with prospective ISL licensees, compared to most, the PT folks sounded inexperienced and incompetent.  They are obviously short on funds, have not carried out a lot of the necessary site characterization work, had unreasonable expectations re NRC review and license, and do not have an experienced ISL contractor who is working for them.

Likely the same for their Colorado proposal.

If anyone has a specific question, I'll try to answer.

Sarah Fields
Uranium Watch

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